What Is a Lift Gate?

Liftgates are hydraulic devices (sometimes electric) installed on the back of trucks that lift freight from the ground to the top of the tailgate or from the tailgate to the ground.

Heavy objects are lifted to the entrance or opening of a trailer with the help of a liftgate. Think of it as a mini freight elevator attached to a truck.

Semi-trucks and vans with lift gates have steel bases attached to their trailers near the bumper. Truck drivers can easily lift and lower pallets and boxes by pressing a button on this base.

Liftgate service is typically offered by carrier fleets specializing in hauling less than truckload shipping. LTL shippers often do not have large, fully staffed warehouses with shipping docks and do not have enough freight to fill an entire truck. These LTL shippers can pay an extra fee to their carrier to reserve a vehicle fitted with a lift gate.

Lift Gate Fork Lift Dock Gate

The Benefits of Using a Lift Gate

If you’re at a location that doesn’t have a loading dock, your team will be responsible for lifting heavy goods from the ground onto a truck, which can result in accidents and injuries. A lift gate protects your freight and any staff physically responsible for getting your product into a trailer for transport.

Other liftgate benefits:

  • Reduce the amount of staff needed for loading and unloading.
  • Bypass the need for a loading dock
  • Forgo the use of a forklift

What Does Liftgate at Delivery Mean

When a shipment has been specified as requiring a liftgate at delivery, it generally means that the consignee (party receiving the shipment) does not have a shipping dock or a forklift to unload the freight.

Do I Need a Liftgate?

Lift gates are required whenever a facility or a fulfillment center cannot lift freight to the height of a trailer or from the tailgate to the ground.

  • No Access to Loading Dock: Facilities that do not operate a loading dock or shipping bay cannot load a standard 53’ semi-trailer or container unless they perform a forklift.

    They are not required for floor-loaded shipments so long as the individual freight items do not weigh more than 150 pounds each. A forklift or liftgate is typically needed if the personal freight items weigh more than 150 pounds each.

  • Construction sites are common in construction areas where an adequate shipping dock has not been built. They are typically used on construction sites to unload construction materials from floor-loaded containers, trailers, and flatbeds.

  • Residential Service & Home Delivery: Very few homes are properly equipped to unload a shipping trailer or container.

    Shipments that are too large for standard shipping (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.) and require residential service will also typically require a liftgate.

    Furniture and home-building materials are the most common freight items that require a liftgate for residential service and home delivery.

    However, if you are expecting the delivery of a large freight item and cannot unload it, you will need to source a lift-gate service.


The above suggestions will help you use your liftgate safely. However, it can often be easiest for team members to remember a few simple dos and don’ts simply:

  • Do stay within the stated load limit.
  • Do distribute weight evenly on the liftgate platform.
  • Do maintain proper fluid levels per the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Do store the liftgate properly whenever it is not in use (especially when moving the truck).
  • Don’t lift goods that do not properly fit on the liftgate platform.
  • Don’t use the liftgate if there is any visible sign of damage or malfunction.
  • Don’t approach the underside of the liftgate.
  • Don’t attempt to repair the liftgate in the field or by yourself unless you are an experienced liftgate specialist.

Keeping these four “dos” and four “don’ts” in mind will help to keep you and your team members safe when using your liftgate. Additionally, ensure the person operating the liftgate is fully trained with periodic retraining. If all team members remember the basic tips and the operator is properly trained, you can be confident in using your liftgate safely.

Lift Gate Docks


While every liftgate has specific instructions provided by the manufacturer, the process is fairly similar across all models. The unfolding process is typically the most different depending on the design. The following steps are for a tuckaway gate and a liftgate that folds up and out of the way underneath the truck. Some models, like tailgates and cantilever gates, simply fold up against the back of the truck.

  • Position the Truck: Make sure the truck is on a flat and stable surface with enough room behind it for the liftgate. Remember that you will need some additional space to load your cargo. Engage the parking brake before using the liftgate.

  • Turn on the Liftgate: With the truck running either in the park or neutral (depending on the transmission), turn on the liftgate auxiliary switch, if applicable.

  • Unhook the Chains: Many liftgates have safety chains or latches that prevent accidental unfolding. Unhook these before using the liftgate.

  • Lower the Liftgate: Standing to the side of the truck, press the control button to lower the platform. Continue until it touches the ground.

  • Unfold the Platform: Using the built-in handhold, unfold the flip-over section of the platform. This will only be present in some designs.

  • Operate the Platform: Once the platform is unfolded, you can operate the liftgate. This should always be done with the cargo securely in place, no one on the platform, and controlling the liftgate from the side of the vehicle by a trained operator.

  • Raise the Platform: When you are ready to fold the liftgate up again, raise the platform about three inches from the ground.

  • Fold the Platform: Make sure that any cart stops are stowed correctly. Then, using the built-in handholds, fold the flip-over section. Be careful to avoid trapping any body parts between the two sections of the liftgate. Additionally, never drop the flip-over section; lower it gently instead.

  • Raise the Liftgate: Using the controls, raise the liftgate until it is positioned in its stowed position under the vehicle.

  • Hook the Chains: If present, hook the safety chains or latches to the liftgate.

  • Turn off the Liftgate: Turn off the liftgate auxiliary switch in the truck cab. You can now turn off the truck, move it, or use the vehicle.

A Professional Gate Repair Company Can Help You Take Care Of Your Lift-Gate Needs

We repair everything from broken hinges, gate wheels, and gate tracks to post-repair. We can also install lift-gate motors, exit loops, and gate sensors if you need them. This makes us the ideal gate repair company for installing and repairing gate motors and repairing your gate.

Please send us a message, or call us for a quote. Use our quote request form to tell us more about your garage or automatic gate repair, and we will connect you with the services that fit your needs. For emergency service, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone. Doing so can prevent a minor problem with your electric lift gate from developing into a major repair.

You will save money in the long run if you are diligent about keeping an eye on the condition of your electric lift-gate. Do not hesitate to contact One & Only Garage Door and Gate Repair if you have any reason to believe that your electric gate may require electric gate repair in Los Angeles, San Diego, or Orange County, CA. We look forward to serving you!